Diocesan and Parochial Fees

Some services, such as weddings and funerals, have fees associated with them. This webpage will help you to understand how to calculate these, how much to send to the Diocese, and what additional fees you might be able to charge for the parish. 

Introduction

The key guide to fees is found at A Guide to Church of England Parochial Fees and the Table of Parochial Fees is updated regularly with the latest information.

The fee you charge can be divided into three parts: 

  • the Diocesan (DBF) fee that relates to the provision of authorised ministry; 
  • the Parochial (PCC) fee that relates to the church building and local administration;
  • additional charges such as for an organist or bellringers.

As well as the charges, you may wish to take a collection at the service, and information about this can be found at the bottom of the page. The Diocesan and Parochial fees are set by the General Synod of the Church of England.

If you have any questions about fees, please contact Jessica Lambert at the Diocesan Office.


Frequently Asked Questions

Collections during Weddings and Funerals

Churches often invite the congregation to make a contribution to church funds, however, families may also ask for a collection to be taken for a named charity.

A collection for another charity can only be taken with the consent of the minister taking the service. The purposes to which collections at funeral or thanksgiving services are to be allocated must be determined by the PCC jointly with the incumbent or priest-in-charge. (In the rare case of disagreement, the diocesan bishop may give directions cf. section 7(iv) of the Parochial Church Councils (Powers) Measure 1956). 

It is good practice for the PCC to have an official policy specifying the share (if any) of a collection that will go towards church funds. The PCC may also have a suggested list of other charities that a family can choose from. Alternatively, the PCC may agree that a retiring collection can go to other charities and causes nominated by the deceased's family. The officiating minister cannot agree to such requests without the authority of the PCC.

Occasionally, the incumbent or priest-in-charge may consider it appropriate for pastoral reasons to ask PCC to vary the usual collection policy. This should be done with the agreement of the PCC before the service.

The question of a collection at the funeral should be discussed by the officiating minister during a pastoral visit ahead of the service and agreed upon with a representative of the immediate family.

If there is a collection for the general purposes of the church or a specific church project or an outside organisation, this must be made clear to the congregation. There should be an announcement about the collection at an appropriate point in the service, together with an explanatory note in the printed order of service. It is also helpful to display a card identifying the beneficiary/ies at the point of donation.

Waiving fees

A Guide to Church of England Parochial Fees explains how fees can be waived in particular cases and who has the authority to do so with regard to the fees due to the PCC and the DBF.

The guidance sets out that this should only be “in cases of clear financial hardship”. For fees to be waived in other circumstances such as simply that the fees effective at the time of the wedding will be higher than when a couple made their wedding arrangements would be a breach of the charity trustee obligations of a PCC and/or DBF in foregoing a payment due by law.

Where the DBF’s fees are waived the PCC’s return of fees to the DBF should record this on every occasion. Similarly, when the PCC waives its fees a record will need to be kept for the PCC’s own accounting purposes.

Funerals for stillborn infants and those under 18 years of age

No fee is payable for the burial of a stillborn infant or for the funeral or burial of a body, or for burial or other lawful disposal of cremated remains of a person who dies within eighteen years after birth.

Monument fees are payable if a monument commemorating the deceased is to be erected on a separate grave or cremated remains plot for a person under eighteen years of age.

Travel expenses

In the case of funerals, reasonably incurred travelling expenses (in 2023 at 45p per mile) should be reclaimed by the officiating minister directly from the funeral director, who should be notified of the mileage prior to the funeral (our form provides space for this). However, in many cases the undertaker will provide transport for the minister.

Travelling costs for pastoral visits associated with weddings and funerals should be paid by the PCC from their fees. These costs should not be passed on to those receiving ministry.

Additional costs due to a disability

The DBF will also fund the PCC’s costs of arrangements at weddings and funerals for those with disabilities, such as professional signing services. Where such costs are incurred the PCC should provide a copy of the invoice with its records when making net remittances to the DBF. Read more information on using signing services.

Our incumbent is ill so another priest has led the service

If your incumbent is ill you may need to ask another priest from outside the benefice to take the service. 

In these cases, the priest (if they are not in receipt of a stipend) will usually be entitled to payment for the service. This is paid from the Diocesan fees and should be done by the Church, rather than sending the full fee to the Diocese for them to then pay the priest. 

Full details can be found here.

A few exceptions

There are some exceptions to the usual arrangements:

  • Parochial fees do not apply to extra-parochial places. In this diocese this covers: the Cathedral, the Beauchamp Community in Newland, Saint Edmund, King & Martyr, in Dudley and Laslett’s Almhouses in Worcester.
  • Since 1st May 2019, by a change in the law, parochial fees have not applied to matters which relate to duties carried out in the course of employment by a university, college, school, hospital or public or charitable institution. When there is a service in a church or churchyard or burial/memorial in the churchyard the PCC fee is not affected by these arrangements.
  • The DBF assigns its fees to the relevant hospice when duties are carried out by a hospice chaplain in the course of their work for the hospice (see the next section for more details). Since 1st May 2019, this only applies to volunteer chaplains as parochial fees do not apply to matters which relate the duties of an employed hospice chaplain carried out in the course of that employment. The PCC fee is not affected by these arrangements.
  • Under transitional arrangements operating from 1 January 2013 some incumbents were able to opt to retain the DBF fee with consequent adjustment of the augmentation of their stipend, but in this diocese this is limited to a very small number. Those incumbents have received written confirmation of the arrangements that apply in their case. The PCC fee is not affected by these arrangement

Hospices

Following the Ecclesiastical Fees Measure 1986 (and amendments) and the Church of England (Miscellaneous Provisions) Measure 2018, an occasional office conducted by a paid chaplain of a hospice or hospital within a Church of England church or graveyard does not have DBF fees, but the hospice/hospital can charge a fee instead.

If the hospice or hospital chaplain is a volunteer, the DBF fees are still payable. However, the DBF has decided to assign its fee proportion to the hospice or hospital, and so should be paid to them. In the event that a PCC receives a DBF fee where the assignment to a hospice applies, the PCC should remit that fee (net of any payments made and the 5% retained by the PCC for administration) to the respective hospice and record that payment on the PCC’s return to the DBF.

Where, as a volunteer hospice chaplain, a Reader or non-stipendiary minister chooses to receive a payment (in accordance with Paper A9, see here) the amount of the DBF fee assigned to the hospice is reduced accordingly.

In both cases, whether the chaplain is a volunteer or paid, the PCC should still charge the PCC element of the occasional office fee (representing the cost of maintaining the building) and any additional costs, such as the payment to an organist or vergers. The authority to waive the PCC fees for a service conducted by a hospice chaplain remains with the relevant incumbent or priest in charge.

Each hospice should send a letter each calendar year to confirm the amount the hospice has received in DBF fees received through volunteer chaplains conducting occasional offices, because it legally counts as a donation from the DBF. Hospices should ensure that PCC fees (along with any additional fees) are paid promptly.

To which PCC or DBF are fees due if the service is not in a church?

In respect of PCC fees for services at public cemeteries or crematoria, the 1986 Measure (as amended) sets out which PCC should receive the fee, regarding which

a) deals with services in churches and churchyards. 

b) where the fee relates to a burial or funeral service which takes place otherwise than in a church or churchyard, the council of the parish on whose electoral roll the deceased was entered, provided that where the deceased was entered on the electoral roll of more than one parish, the fee shall be shared equally between each of the councils of those parishes, 

c) where the fee relates to a burial or funeral service which takes place otherwise than in a church or churchyard and the deceased was not entered on any electoral roll, the council of the parish where the deceased had his or her usual place of residence, and 

d) in any other case, the council of the parish where the service or other event to which the fee relates takes place;’. 

In respect of DBF fees for services at public cemeteries or crematoria, the amended 1986 Measure sets out which DBF should receive the fee (extract from section 1(7)). ‘b) where the fee relates to a burial or funeral service which takes place otherwise than in a church or churchyard, the diocesan board of finance of the diocese within which the deceased was a parishioner, provided that, where the deceased was a parishioner in more than one diocese, the fee shall be shared equally between each of the diocesan boards of finance.'


Where to begin

It is open to PCCs to agree on arrangements for the handling of fees. This may be particularly relevant where there are several parishes in the area of a benefice or where the incumbent is a priest in charge of another benefice. A joint arrangement might therefore be more convenient for those clergy, PCC treasurers and the Diocesan Office. Where PCCs agree to such arrangements it is essential that the Diocesan Finance Team is advised accordingly.

In order to organise a funeral, the funeral director will contact the incumbent or another individual, such as a parish administrator, who they usually contact, whereas, for weddings, it will often be the couple who come and speak to the incumbent in the first place. For more information on funerals in general, click here, and for weddings click here.

It often helps both those who are asking for a service and yourselves if the financial aspect can be clear from the beginning - we advise that this aspect is discussed in the first proper meeting. 

It may help to have a simple form, such as the two below, which can be filled in by the person talking with the funeral director or couple to confirm the costs simply. This form can then be sent both to the funeral director or wedding couple, and your PCC treasurer so that they have a clear paper trail of what has been agreed. It could also be sent to the Churchwardens or parish administrator to help with their work.

Wedding fees form (excel)

Funeral fees form (excel) 

The PCC should ensure that these forms are retained for at least six years. 


Diocesan and Parochial Fees

The current Fees Table for the Church of England can be found here.

This table gives the amounts to be charged for various services. For example (figures correct for March 2023), for a marriage service, the PCC charges a total of £505, of which £276 are the Parochial Fees to be kept by the PCC and £229 are the Diocesan Fees to be sent on to the Diocese. In addition, they may need to have their banns read, which is a further Parochial Fee of £36, with no Diocesan fee. 

In the forms above it is the total of the Parochial and Diocesan fees that should be entered. 


Additional Charges

A Guide to Church of England Parochial Fees explains when additional charges may or may not be made, for example, charges for heating for the occasion of the wedding or funeral and the services of a verger. It also makes it clear that the amounts charged for these optional items can be decided by each PCC, provided that they are realistic and fair. The cost of these “extras” must be separately stated as optional and may not be charged unless agreement is obtained in advance from those receiving the ministry.

Where the PCC is acting as an agent for others, such as an organist or bellringers, it is strongly recommended that payments are made to the PCC who would then pass the funds on to those concerned. This is both simpler for those responsible for making the payments and provides a clear audit trail.


Looking after and paying the Diocesan Fees

The Diocese has requested PCCs to act as its agent to receive fees and then send them to the DBF. In view of the administration involved the DBF has agreed that PCCs in this Diocese should be entitled to retain 5% of the fees that it receives on behalf of the DBF. This amount can be deducted by PCCs from fees payable when remitting the amount due to the DBF.

The Diocese has agreed to fund payments made on behalf of the incumbent to other ministers as set out here. In this respect, the PCC will be acting as an agent for the DBF and the incumbent and will make such payments as are due to these ministers out of the fees received from wedding couples or funeral directors. It is important that these payments (and expenses) are paid promptly and certainly within a month.

When the PCC is acting as the DBF’s agent in this way it is important that (other than for the 5% retained) the DBF’s fees and their payment to the DBF are not accounted for as the PCC’s income (and expenditure); the PCC is not at liberty to use funds held on behalf of the DBF for its own cash flow purposes.


Recording Receipts & Payments

Those responsible for payment of the fees should be asked to do so in a single payment to the PCC. Cash payments should be discouraged. Funeral directors may make payments on a calendar month basis provided there is an itemised statement clearly identifying each funeral to which it relates.

A form for recording receipts and analysing them into those due to the PCC and DBF is available either as an Excel spreadsheet or in a PDF version for printing. The form also provides for recording where payments are made to ministers conducting services.

This form should be used to accompany remittances to the DBF. It together with the itemised forms for each service should be kept for at least six years and need to be available, as an audit trail, to the PCC’s independent examiner (or auditor) and the DBF’s officers and auditor.

Fees due to the DBF should be sent at least quarterly, or in those parishes where a relatively larger number of services takes place on a monthly basis. PCCs should ensure that these returns are sent in within a month of each quarter-end even if a “nil” return is submitted.

The returns should be sent to Jessica Lambert indicating how payment of the net amount due to the DBF is being made e.g. by BACS. 

Page last updated: Monday 12th February 2024 11:03 AM

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